The Do’s and Don’ts of Treating Depression in Dogs

Is your dog suffering from depression? Have you noticed a lack of interest in him suddenly? Does your pooch’s emotional and physical enthusiasm drops down when he is stressed out, and unable to cope up with the disturbing or changing situations? There can be different reasons for canine depression, from loss of a family member to arrival of a new baby or pet at home.

Small dogs and hyperactive dogs like Pomeranian Chihuahua Mix, Border Collie, Labradors, etc are prone to developing depression and anxiety.

Symptoms of Depression:

Major symptoms of depression are:

  1. Excessive Licking
  2. Avoidance or Hiding
  3. Loss of Interest
  4. Changes in Sleeping Habits (Insomnia or Excessive Sleeping)
  5. Appetite Changes (Loss of Appetite or Overeating)

Treating Depression the Right Way:

There are some do’s and don’ts of treating canine depression to tackle the situation thoroughly.

Things to Do:

You should consider following things to cure depression in dogs:

1) Consult the vet:

The first step to treating a pet-related problem is identifying the symptoms correctly. Dogs can get depressed for various reasons:

  1. Arrival of a new baby or pet or visitor
  2. Death of a house pet or family member
  3. Sudden change in dog’s daily routine
  4. Change of house
  5. Depression of the owner
  6. Lack of proper social interaction

If you have failed to recognize any specific cause for your dog’s depression, then, consult the vet to identify it. The dog may be suffering from any medical issue.

2) Comfort the dog:

Dogs love discipline in life. They like staying within the comfort zone, i.e., following a routine and being familiar with the surroundings.

Changes in routine should be brought gradually, so the dog may not identify them. If you have changed home, keep the dog bowl, crate, etc. same to make him comfortable at the new place. Make good memories at the new site with the dog to rely on!

If it’s about the arrival or departure of someone new, pay attention to the dog as much as you did before. Make him experience the fun with or without the new member respectively to get used to the change. Implement treat training method to attract him into the play.

3) Physical and mental exercise:

Involve the dog into mental and physical exercises outdoors and indoors. Make use of their hunting skills and the habit of ‘completing the task’ at hand at any cost. You just have to engage the dog once, and he will play for hours. With time introduce the new member to the dog and let him take the dog out.

4) Pay attention:

This is not a warning signboard, but something important. Your dog loves to be the center of attention. So, it’s imperative that you show love and care to the pooch despite the changes in his life.

5) Medication:

If the dog fails to recover from the symptoms of depression for several months, then you can move on to giving him vet-prescribed antidepressants like Prozac.

Things to Avoid:

1) Delay in treatment:

Begin the treatment at the earliest you recognize the symptoms and change in dog’s behavior. Depression and inactivity can increase the chances of further problems, including upset stomach, obesity, and maybe heart problems. Curing prolonged depression is difficult.

2) Allow overeating:

Giving love and care to your dog doesn’t mean that you can promote the pooch’s overeating habit out of anxiety. You have to maintain the balance of food according to activity levels per day. Obesity in dogs can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems. Better to stay safe than be sorry later!

3) Show depressed behavior:

Emotions are contagious for pets. If your depression has transferred to your pooch, you have to consult the psychologist to get treatment for yourself. Moreover, you can train your pooch as a ‘therapy dog’ to aid in curing your depression, it will help both of you to walk out the door of gloom and sadness.

4) Force to perform tasks:

Forcing a dog to socialize, play, and go out with the new member will not do the job. You have to bring the changes gradually through positive reinforcement. Give him treats whenever he does something for you.

5) Change the dog supplies:

With a change of home, changing dog supplies, including the bed, crate, bowl, toys, etc. is not a positive step towards treatment. Once the dog is out of depression and acclimates to the new place, you can move ahead towards changing the supplies.


Consistency is the key. Despite the changes in life, you can accustom the dog to new things. Comfort him to live with the changes, and your dog will soon overcome his depression. Positive reinforcement is the best encouragement for the dog to get excited to perform various tasks for you that will benefit his mental state.

By: Fiona Appleton
Fiona Appleton is a Labrador owner. She is the manager of Ultimate Home Life that has been developed to help people solve the troubles of pet ownership. She is an active advocate of animal protection campaigns. She wants people to understand that dog-behavior is reflective of our behavior.
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